Novella Review: Walking on Knives – Maya Chhabra

Walking on KnivesThe Little Mermaid makes a bargain with the sea-witch, in which she loses her voice and must walk through eternal pain, in order to have a life with the Prince she loves.


Why this book?: I had heard of it before seeing it on NetGalley, and remembered hearing about it being an F/F retelling. The premise reminded me so much of The Seafarer’s Kiss, that I requested the e-ARC and jumped straight into this tale.

I would like to thank the people at Less Than Three Press for allowing me to have an ARC of this book via NetGalley.

When you open up Walking on Knives on Goodreads, you might notice that at the bottom of the summary, it says: Walking on Knives contains some explicit content and a scene with dubious sexual consent.” What may catch your interest there, if you’re like me, is the last part. “Dubious sexual consent”. And, again, if you’re like me, you might think “Well, there’s really no such thing as “dubious consent”. It’s either rape or sex. Consent, or no consent. This isn’t a “yes, no, maybe,” situation.”

So, it goes without saying that Walking on Knives has a rape scene. As a warning, it’s literally how the novella opens up. It’s thrown at your face, with no introduction or explanation. It’s there, it’s happening. It’s worded a little confusingly, but it’s stated just right to let you know that, yes, the little mermaid gets raped in this retelling.

In addition to that, there was also another sex scene that really, truly, can and will be harmful to readers. Neither party wants to have sex, and one cries during the scene. This scene made me very uncomfortable, especially how it ends up morally ruining one character. Both the opening rape scene, as well as this scene, were mostly brushed off as normal events that happened in the story. In fact, this story might even be considered as having a happy ending, despite the ruination of multiple characters lives and morale, just because the little mermaid gets what she wants.

Chhabra’s writing was also very simplistic, and, to be frank, immature, and in need of great work. I personally find it very hard to connect with characters when they are never named, and all of the characters went by titles or descriptors. The little mermaid, the strange woman, the sea-witch, the prince, the princess, the king, etc. Chhabra attempted to give Walking on Knives a sense of being a folktale with giving no names, but ultimately failed as I saw no reason to continue reading, if only to write this review.

Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall?

While I enjoyed the premise and some parts of Walking on Knives, I was extremely put off by some of the scenes. One I didn’t mention was where the love interest asked for a kiss as a payment for a gift. Walking on Knives had the potential to be something beautiful and queer, but was ultimately ruined by Chhabra’s choices.

Would I Recommend?

I feel as if some may enjoy this more than I have, but there was a reason most of my review included commentary on the “dubious consent” scenes.

Trigger warning for rape/sexual assault, sexual content, and possessive love interest.


Walking on Knives

Additional Information:

Published: July 26th, 2017

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Page Count: ~25

Genre: Fantasy/Retelling/Romance

Synopsis: via Goodreads

The little mermaid has no idea that as she makes her way on land, she’s being watched over by the sister of the very witch with whom she made her bargain. She has no idea that the witch’s sister is falling in love with her.

When the prince decides to marry another woman, the little mermaid’s secret helper offers her a chance to live. But the price may be too high…

Walking on Knives contains some explicit content and a scene with dubious sexual consent.

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